“For me it was 1987, I was a sophomore in college and I started getting double vision in my one eye and started getting really bad headaches,” said Joey Gianforte, an Edward Neuroscience Institute patient with multiple sclerosis.
Those were the first symptoms that lead Joey Gianforte to discover he had multiple sclerosis, but he soon found out that diagnosis wasn’t as life altering as he assumed.
“I’d say my life has been awesome,” said Joey.
For over 30 years Joey has lived what he calls a relatively normal life with MS, an autoimmune disorder that affects different parts of the nervous system, according to Joey’s Dr. Henry Echiverri, with the Edward Neuroscience Institute.
“The immune system [is] suppose to protect the body against foreign things like bacteria and infection and guard your body to look for anything that goes wrong like tumors. When something goes wrong with that function, [the body] starts turning around on [itself] and sees the nervous system and thinks that’s the enemy, so they attack the nervous system, which is the brain and the spinal cord,” explained Dr. Echiverri, a Neurologist at Edward.
Making adjustments to a life with MS can be difficult for some, but for Joey it’s been fairly stable. He uses a cane or walker and occasionally a scooter to get around.
After being an accountant for 25 years, a father of two daughters, and newly engaged with two step children, he credits his positive attitude, the support of family, and especially his doctor for the life he’s had.
“I think the most common fear is that it’s a disabling disease, that when they get the diagnosis they’ll be crippled in a few years. That’s the most disturbing misconception,” added Dr. Echiverri. “With the proper care and the proper medication that’s not necessarily the case.”
MS can lead to visual loss, numbness, and even personality changes depending on where the nervous system is affected. But as Joey and Dr. Echiverri say, it’s staying positive and getting treated correctly that can make all the difference.
There are roughly four million patients around the world with multiple sclerosis. Statistics say it affects women more than men on a 3-1 ratio.
Naperville News 17’s Christine Lena reports.